Do you work with a psychopath?

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‘Psychopath’, or its abbreviated form ‘psycho’, is a word which long-ago made its way into the flippant repertoire of the armchair observer cum psychiatrist – ‘Mary drank my milk – what a psycho’, or ‘Ted never paid me back for lunch – how psychotic’.

Yet psychopathy is a genuine mental condition, and according to a new book, there are a number of professions which attract more than their fair share. In The Wisdom of Psychopaths: What Saints, Spies, and Serial Killers Can Teach Us About Success, author Kevin Dutton identified the 10 most likely, and least likely, jobs where psychos are likely to be found.

Top jobs for psychopaths:

1. CEO
2. Lawyer
3. Media (TV/radio)
4. Salesperson
5. Surgeon
6. Journalist
7. Police officer
8. Clergyperson
9. Chef
10. Civil servant

Least likely professions for psychopaths:

1. Care aide
2. Nurse
3. Therapist
4. Craftsperson
5. Beautician/Stylist
6. Charity worker
7. Teacher
8. Creative artist
9. Doctor
10. Accountant

The list of the professions in which psycho’s thrive reflects the ruthless character traits needed to stay in the business, and ability to perform under acute stress. The book said psychopaths are drawn to and thrive in roles where people need the ability to make “objective, clinical decisions divorced from feelings”, Business Insider reported.

On the list of professions least likely to attract psychopaths, behaviours such as empathy and human interaction are more noticeably needed.

  • De Backman-Hoyle on 8/11/2012 5:10:20 PM

    For someone that advocates against the stigma of those with mental illnesses I get very concerned when articles like these simplify a very complex illness, dont worry about being boxed in with your MBTI traits just have a job title that correlates to a Psychopath!

    Mental illness is not funny or flippant as depicted in this article

  • Matt on 9/11/2012 10:23:23 AM

    Psychopathy or Sociopathy as its often known are not deemed as mental illnesses. Even if they were they have no known cure or available treatment. They are high functioning, self aware people who lack any form of empathy. They need more than stigma, they should come with a warning label.

  • Michael C on 9/11/2012 8:25:29 PM

    I agree with Matt. This subject is a concern we have to increasingly address, particularly given that some psychopathic tendencies can often be desirable at some stages in an organisation (ruthless short term sales growth for one). I have often seen such people be inordinately successful for a time, then become a liability. Flippant reviews such as this on a serious subject, one that has the capacity to wreck an organisation and have severe impacts on innocent people working in it, don't really do the subject any justice.

    From one who has worked with managers leaning towards psychopathy!


  • Bernie Althofer on 11/11/2012 11:11:55 AM

    I suspect that the understanding of what is and what is not meant by the word 'psychopath' is dependent on variables and experiences and whether or not the person using abbreviated terms does so because they are a lay person with no formal exposure, or a qualified person.

    I haven't read the book yet so will not make comment on it. However, as other discussions forums on this same topic have illustrated, the issue of psychopaths and sociopaths is becoming increasingly important to understand. It also seems that in some cases, the rise of psycho management has seen managers (and some others) try to respond to issues where they have no understanding or qualifications.

    At the same time, the level of mental illness being experienced by people from all walks of life certainly means that more education and attention needs to paid to this aspect. Once again, other discussion groups have highlighted why mental illness needs increased attention.

    I suspect that as more and more people get involved in discussing the various issues, then more and more people will start to understand the seriousness of the issues involved.

  • Yvonne Walker on 12/11/2012 7:24:55 PM

    Matt, not sure if you've aware of the DSM IV (which is a psychiatrist's diagnostic manual) but sociopathy and psychopathy are most definitely recognised as mental illnesses.

    The difference between the two, because they are not the same, is that sociopaths are unable to feel empathy; psychopaths can, they just don't change their behaviour.

    What we are tending to do as a society(in agreement with De) is overuse and trivialise the terminology in articles such as this.

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